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Friday, February 20, 2009

“Blood and Ice” by Robert Masello (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Official Robert Masello Website
Order “Blood and Ice
HERE (US) + HERE (UK-March 5, 2009)
Read An Excerpt
HERE
Read Reviews via Green Man Review

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, a television writer (Charmed, Early Edition), and the author of many books, most recently the USA Today bestselling “Vigil” and “Bestiary”. His articles and essays have appeared often in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, People, and Parade, and his nonfiction book, Robert’s Rules of Writing, has become a staple in many college classrooms. He is also a longstanding member of the Writers Guild of America.

ABOUT BLOOD AND ICE: In this haunting and suspenseful thriller, Robert Masello delivers an adventure that spans continents and centuries—a spellbinding story that ranges from Victorian England to a remote antarctic research station, where an ancient glacier yields a shocking prize it has held captive for nearly two hundred years...

Journalist Michael Wilde—his world recently shattered by tragedy—hopes that a monthlong assignment to the South Pole will give him a new lease on life. Here, in the most inhospitable place on earth, he is simply looking to find solace . . . until, on a routine dive into the polar sea, he unexpectedly finds something else entirely: a young man and woman, bound with chains and sealed forever in a block of ice. Beside them a chest filled with a strange, and sinister, cargo.

Now, in a bleak but breathtaking world of shimmering icebergs, deep blue crevasses, and never-ending sun, Wilde must unravel the mystery of this doomed couple. Were they the innocent victims of fear and superstition—or were they something far darker? His search will lead from the barracks and battlefields of the Crimean War to the unexplored depths of the Antarctic Ocean, from the ill-fated charge of the Light Brigade to an age-old curse that survives to this day.

As the ice around the murdered lovers begins to melt, Wilde will have to grapple with a miracle—or a nightmare—in the making. For what is dead, it turns out, may not be gone. And here, at the very end of the known world, there’s nowhere to hide and no place left for the living to run...

FORMAT/INFO: Page count is 512 pages divided over fifty-five time/dated chapters and four Parts, each featuring a passage from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’sThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. Narration is in the third-person via three main characters—photojournalist Michael Wilde, Lieutenant Sinclair Copley and Eleanor Ames—and also includes a few secondary players. “Blood and Ice” is self-contained, but there is definitely scope for a sequel if the author so chooses.

February 24, 2009 marks the North American Hardcover publication of “Blood and Ice” via
Bantam Spectra. The UK edition (see inset), will be published on March 5, 2009 by Harvill Secker.

ANALYSIS: A mix of historical fiction, techno-thriller and horror—think Dan Simmons’ The Terror meets Michael Crichton meets Jasper Kent’s TwelveRobert Masello’sBlood and Ice” is a gripping page-turner that grabbed me from the very beginning...

At the beginning, readers are transported back to December 28, 1856 onboard the HM Sloop Coventry “in the Southern Ocean”, where we are introduced to Sinclair and his ‘wife’ Eleanor who, along with a chest full of mysterious bottles, are suddenly the target of a savage attack spurred by superstition. From here, “Blood and Ice” alternates between two different storylines. One is set in present day and follows photojournalist Michael Wilde on a job to Antarctica where he makes the discovery of a lifetime—two perfectly preserved human bodies from another era! This storyline, with its technological jargon, interesting real-life science and pulse-pounding thrills—including riding out a storm on an icebreaker and reliving the tragic moment when Michael’s wife fell into a coma—should appeal to fans of adventure novels and techno-thrillers everywhere.

The other storyline takes place in 1854 and concentrates on Lieutenant Sinclair Copley of the 17th Lancers and nurse Eleanor Ames; how they met, their different lifestyles, their courtship, and the events that led up to December 28, 1856. Full of historical detail like Florence Nightingale, the gentlewomen facility on Harley Street, Pall Mall, the Crimean War and the Charge of the Light Brigade, this part of the book will fascinate anyone who is a history buff.

It’s in parts three and four that the two storylines converge and the novel starts introducing some fantastical elements including a sprinkle of horror and science fiction. It’s hard to discuss this part of the book without giving anything away, especially since it makes up over half of the novel, but suffice it to say that Robert gives fresh life to a couple of classic SF/horror tropes, including a scientific spin on a concept that every reader will be familiar with…

Apart from the interesting hybridization of genres, what makes “Blood and Ice” such a gripping read is the excellent writing. Prose is skillful and accessible (reminded me of a cross between James Rollins and Jasper Kent); the dialogue is believable; the pacing is superb; and the author’s storytelling—particularly his ability to juggle two such disparate storylines while building suspense—is topnotch. Characterization is also impressive, specifically how easy it is to care for them, especially Eleanor, but their narrative voices do sound a lot alike. Fortunately, their distinctive personalities—Michael’s journalistic mindset, Darryl’s scientific geekiness, Eleanor’s 19th century sensibilities, Sinclair’s aristocratic nature, etc.—more than make up for this tiny deficiency.

Other minor issues include the book being just a tad too long, a few predictable moments that are telegraphed too obviously by the author, a somewhat anticlimactic ending, and a couple of highly convenient plot devices like the discovery of a new species of fish that offers the solution to one of the novel’s greatest questions.

Overall though, Robert Masello’sBlood and Ice” is a splendidly conceived and executed novel that I just couldn’t put down. As entertaining as it is suspenseful, “Blood and Ice” is a superb reading experience that wonderfully bridges the gap between literary and speculative fiction…

5 comments:

gav (nextread.co.uk) said...

Thanks Robert

Another great sounding book I'd have missed if it wasn't for Fantasy Book Critic.

Sounds cold....

L. Clarke said...

They have just uncovered the remains of a mammoth in America. I for one am waiting expectantly for some genetic tampering with evolution. Ya I'll say as they re-create some animal. They grew a mouse from a 12 yr old dead carcass, now a mammoth. People trapped in ice would be fun too, new mummy dudes running around again. Maybe from some Atlantean period of earth time, still the memory could not be revived.
I myself like sci-fi writing and have a military, horror science fiction novel called Doom Of The Shem. It has an alien invasion theme with many hand to tentacle fight scenes.
doomoftheshem.blogspot.com

ediFanoB said...

Great review Robert!

There is also a book trailer available over at bookspotcentral:
Blood and Ice Trailer

Book is on my list!

Robert said...

No problem Gav :) It's a really good book and I'll be hosting a giveaway for the UK edition in a couple of weeks...

Thanks for the comment Leon! Yeah, it will be interesting to see where science takes us :) I'm afraid I haven't heard of you before, but I'll definitely check out your blog!

Thanks for the link edifanob! I actually already saw the video on Random House, but it's pretty cool :D Hope you enjoy the book when you get a chance to read it!

Patricia Altner said...

Excellent review! I had heard about this book, but wasn't sure if I wanted to add it to my groaning TBR pile.

Well, I've decided yes.

Thanks

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